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Reading, Berkshire

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      26.12.2000 18:02
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      It was interesting reading the previous opinion...I agree wit a lot of the comments, although I have a few of my own to add!!! I have actually lived in Earley and Lower Earley since I was 8. I went to local schools, I played in local parks, woorked locally and now do all of those things with my family. When I was young I played happily in the fields which are now covered with Lower Earley!!! My granparents have actually lived here for nearly 80 years...no doubt they have seen far more changes than me!! Earley definately has suffered in the past from lack of community spirit, but from my experience, I think that is due mainly to the high proportion of couples where both are out at work all day... I reallt did not get to know my next door neighbour...we shared a pair of semi`s...until we were both on maternity leave!! As soon as you have children, you discover a whole new socal , community thing that you had no idea even existed before!!! Earley and Lower Earley cna both boast a huge nunmber of oppurtunities for family orientated community buildng, based around the community centres, the schools and the leisure centre..(Incidentally , when that swimming pool FINALLY opens , the chheer will be audible forom most parts of england!!!!We have waited SOOOOO long!!) Why on earth we had the provision of a secondary school snatched away defies belief...but I strongly believe tht as we pay wokingham taxes, every resident of Earley and Lower Earley should have a place for their secondary age child in their closest school, and not have to travel miles and miles. Currently this isn`t the case..and is a huge planning blunder. I enjoy living here....Communication to other parts of the country are good, and if you must go to London, it`s very easy.... The downside is property prices...we bought our 4 bed house 7 years ago and it has doubled in value. How our children will ever get started in the h
      ousing market is unimaginable...but the upside of this area is less than 1% unemployment...at least they will have a job!! this would be the ideal place for me to live...if only the sea was at the bottom of my garden.but then thats just a personal thing!!

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        23.11.2000 05:22
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        I live in Earley, which is a town on the eastern border of Reading, Berkshire. Having a population of 34,000 souls makes it the biggest town in Wokingham District to whom we pay our Council tax. I have lived there since 1987 and despite its problems – wouldn’t live anywhere else. The town itself has a fairly interesting history especially the last 25 years, which resulted in the building of the then biggest housing estate in Europe. The development was called Lower Earley and the name has since stuck. This has resulted in the older part of the town being called Earley and the new part called Lower Earley – even though both parts are part of the same town. To make this 'masterpiece' (?) easier to read, I am going to sub-divide it into a number of subject areas: Geography ++++++++ Earley can be crudely divided into 3 areas. The first is North Earley, which runs from Wokingham Road, through the A4 and up to the Thames taking in part of the Thames Valley Business Park, home of Oracle, Microsoft and other hi-tech companies. It is an old part of town with most houses being built post WW2 up to the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, the A329M was built through the centre of the area causing the demolition of many properties. Landmarks of interest in North Earley include Mays Lane Cemetery (a traditional green cemetery), Woodley Hill House (used as a college) and “Scotchman’s Knob”. The latter was the site of the camp of the Navvies who built the part of the Great Western mainline called the ‘Sonning Cutting’. The story goes that most of the Navvies were from north of the border and ladies of ill repute congregated there! South of the Wokingham Road is central Earley. Most of this part of the town is housing built in the 1960’s following the sale of the estate belonging to the landowner Sol Joel. Within this area is the lake (see facilities) and part of R
        eading University campus which was built on the site of Whiteknights Park. Further south is the Lower Earley development. This begins at Rushey Way, which is the main through road, and carries on south to the peripheral road, which was, built to allow traffic to bypass the town. On either side of the peripheral is green land to act as natural barrier and just to the south of that is the M4. ‘Lower Earley’ consists of houses built in the 1980’s and 1990’s and resembles a modern large upmarket housing estate. Many people moved into the town with the coming of the Lower Earley development and they came to see their area as a town in its own right. Some of those in central and north Earley look down on those from the new part of the town and refer to it as Lower Earley too. As a result of this, there appear to be 2 towns. This is perpetuated by the Post Office, the Estate Agents (who love to mention school catchment areas) and the local newspapers. History +++++++ Earley grew up near to the 3 Tuns crossroads on what is now the border with Reading. It was here that St Peters Church was built in the 1840’s. Earley developed in a westward direction up to 1887 when the area down to Cemetery Junction was moved into Reading because of a need to connect the houses into their sewerage system. This included housing in the Newtown area, which housed the Huntley and Palmer biscuit employees. Even to this day, there are people living in Reading who have Earley postcodes (RG6) and think of themselves as living in Earley! Up to the 1960’s, Earley was a mix of farming land and those with a lot of money that built large houses. Solomon Joel made a fortune in diamonds in South Africa and built a big house in central Earley along with a racecourse. Nothing is left of the house or racecourse today. However the race stands were moved to Newbury where they still stand today. With the death of Sol J
        oel in the 1960’s, his land was sold off and his mansion demolished. There then followed a period of house building in the central Earley area either side of Silverdale Road. The final jigsaw piece was completed when work was started on Lower Earley to satisfy the demand for housing from the 1970's onwards. Acres of fields were built on. In fact the whole landscape was completely changed. Shops +++++ Earley doesn’t have a traditional shopping centre like most towns do. In north Earley, there is a row of shops running down the Wokingham road, which tend to be newsagent and Chip Shop sized. Maiden Erlegh has a similar row of shops down Silverdale Road. These used to comprise local traders such as a Butchers but nowadays they are being sold out to Indian/Chinese Restaurants and late night convenience stores. The big stores can be found in the newer part of the town. We have a largish ASDA, which arrived back in 1977, and in the mall where it is located are a few little shops such as Hairdressers, Travel Agents and the like. ASDA used to open 24 hours per day, but has recently reverted to more standard hours (i.e. 10pm!). ASDA also has its own petrol station. Opposite the ASDA complex is another collection of shops in a square. These comprise a petrol station, a Blockbusters, Iceland and a Toby Carvery Pub. We are about to have a McDonalds inflicted upon us. At the other end of the new part of the town is Maiden Place. This is a square containing a collection of Estate Agents, off-licence, newsagents and a number of eateries. The ASDA complex acts as a magnetic and sucks in the trade from the other parts of the town. The little shops suffer as a result. For those who don’t want to shop in the town, Reading is about 3 miles away to the west and Wokingham about the same distance to the east. Schools +++++++ Earley has a reasonable number of infant/junior schools.
        In the older part of the town can be found Earley St Peters (near the 3 Tuns crossroads), Aldryngton (in Maiden Erlegh), and Loddon Infants/Junior schools. There is 1 secondary school called Maiden Erlegh. In the newer part can be found Hillside, Radstock and Hawkedon primary schools. And here lies a fundamental problem. Earley does not have sufficient secondary school places. Buying a house in the Maiden Erlegh catchment area is encouraged by the local Estate Agents. The school was build in the 1960’s and suffers from a general state of disrepair (the roof leaks!). It cannot easily be expanded. However it is a very good school and there are many Reading children who also attend – despite Wokingham Council trying to persuade Reading to take their own children. Those not in the catchment area have to rely on schools outside of the town including Holt and Forrest in Wokingham; and Ryeish Green. Earley Councillors have been campaigning for another secondary school, though land and funding is a problem. The need for a new school has to be justified, demand has to be forecast and the numbers in outlying schools assessed. Leisure facilities ++++++++++++++++++ For a town of its size, facilities are fairly limited. There is a sports centre with a new swimming pool to be opened in January 2001. In the centre of the town is the Maiden Erlegh Lake and Nature Reserve both run by the Town Council. In addition, there is a newly opened Water Resources Centre next to the River Thames where you can go canoeing. The town has a number of parks and open spaces to give some balance to the large number of houses. These include Meadow Park which play equipment for both young and not so young, Laurel Park (adjoining the lake) where the Firework display is held, the Carnival Field where the Earley Carnival is held and Sol Joel Park. Sol Joel is a huge park and was donated by the benefactor Sol Joel 60
        or so years ago to Reading Borough Council that currently run it. However Earley Town Council will be taking it over next year once the lease has been sorted out. In addition, Earley has quite a collection of community centres and Youth and Community clubs. Earley doesn’t have many things to do in the evening. There are about 5 pubs in the town including the dreaded Toby Carvery. We do not have a cinema or a bowling alley but the Town Council has built a Skateboard Park in Sol Joel Park, which is well used by the young people of the town. Transport +++++++ Earley has its share of traffic jams especially in the morning rush hour. Many/most households seem to have 2 cars, which fight to get out to Reading, Wokingham and the M4. There are a number of bus services into Reading, but next to nothing into Wokingham. Reading Buses provide the majority of services and they have just chopped the frequency of the service I use by half during off-peak hours. Bless them !! We have a Railway Station (called Earley would you believe) with about 2 services per hour to London Waterloo and another 2 to Reading. On the positive side, Earley has a large number of cycleways including Cutbush Lane where you can pedal without fear of traffic. Councils ++++++++ Earley residents pay their Council taxes to Wokingham District Council which is the unitary authority responsible for social services, education and highways. We also have a Town Council of which yours truly is a Councillor and current Chairman. The town has many problems including traffic congestion, lack of a secondary school and other amenities. There isn’t a very good community spirit and many people keep themselves to themselves. The Town Council is pushing for another secondary school. Conclusion ++++++++++ Earley is an interesting place to live. It has good transport links and is close to Reading
        and London. If you cross the M4 you will even find the countryside (unless the builders get there first!) Its amenities are reasonable but need improving for a town of this size. Most people get around this deficiency by going to Reading and Bracknell. The closeness of Earley to Reading has caused many to suggest that we should be part of Reading. There is clearly more affinity to Reading than to Wokingham in the east. I feel that Wokingham is the lesser of the 2 evils. For too long Wokingham have dumped loads of houses on the town and never provided the facilities to go with them. I wish people would stop calling it Lower Earley because this perpetuates the split and doesn’t cover the whole of the town. But despite this – I couldn’t think of a better place to live.

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